Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Signings

My first book signing happened a few months after I'd given birth to 13 pounds of twins. So beforehand, I went shopping to find a magical dress that would hide the fact that I still looked like I was carrying around an undisclosed child in my stomach.

I still remember the sales clerk's reaction when I told her about the event.  She looked at me dreamily and said, "I've always wanted to do a book signing."

I've thought about that statement several times over the years. During some signings, I wish I'd taken her name and number and hired her to do mine for me.

Because yes, some of them really are that bad.  Once only one person walked into the bookstore during the entire signing. (On the bright side, I did sell him a book, so in that regard it was my only 100% successful signing.)  Another time the bookstore obviously forgot I was coming. They'd done no advertising and just set me up in a chair in the corner of the store and ignored me. And I'll never forget the time I brought a pen with golden ink so my signature would be distinctive. It was distinctive all right. It leaked all over the books.

If you have a bucket list with Do a Book Signing written on it, let me save you some trouble. Choose a store, set up a table, and sit there for an hour or two while people rush by you avoiding eye contact. Then cross book signing right off your bucket list.

That said, I'll be doing two book signings in the next week. Yes, actually I am a glutton for punishment, why do you ask? (No, I'm just joking about that. Both places I'm signing are awesome, or trust me, I wouldn't have agreed to it.)

Utah friends:

Friday, May 4th 5:00-6:30 p.m.
The Provo Marriott Hotel
101 West 100 North
 Provo, Utah 84601

A ton of other authors will be there too. Literally, a ton. Although none as wonderful as me, so don't you dare go stand in their lines first. Just saying . . .

Arizona  friends:

Monday, May 7th at 7:00
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S McClintock Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85283

Authors Shelley Coriell and Amy Dominy will also be there. Changing Hands is promoting us as Funny Girlz, so one of us should do something amusing. I'm voting for Shelley, because she's a new author and therefore should be subjected to hazing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Truth in Advertising, why writers are needed in the real world



This morning when I got the strawberries out of the fridge, I noticed that the package said they were “limited edition”.
  I hate to disagree with packaging, but how can strawberries be limited editions?   Does this mean I should expect strawberries to disappear from the grocery store shelves soon? The earth made them for a few millennia, but it will be discontinuing them?

Or did the package mean that those particular strawberries won’t be around long? Eat them now before they mold.  If so, doesn’t that go without saying?

It made me think about all the other inaccurate packaging that products use.  For example:

Good and Plenty



Good yes, but only plenty if you have no children. If you have children, they will descend on you as soon as they hear the sound of the box opening and you will end up with only three pieces of candy. Perhaps they should have gone with Good and Adequate If You Don’t Have a Sweet Tooth.

Life cereal.

Who came up with this product name and why?  I’m guessing it’s probably because we all wish our life was like Lucky Charms—full of rainbow marshmallows that are magically delicious—but instead life is actually more like crumbly little squares that aren’t nearly as sweet as we’d like.  It's life, baby, get used to it.

Hershey’s Kisses

Unfortunately, these kisses are a little too waxy tasting. It makes me wonder who Hershey was kissing. If someone is going to be kissing my lips, I want it to be LindtAlmond Roca would be acceptable too.

Thin Mints

These have yet to make me thin, although I keep trying.  (You can see this blog has swerved into thoughts on chocolate and will probably not leave. Chocolate. Mmmm.)

Snickers

I love the candy bar but it makes you wonder what other names were tossed out in the marketing meeting before they decided on this one:  Scorns? Scoffs? Disdainful Deriding? General Mockery?

What is this candy bar really trying to say, and does it have anything to do with what people think of your rear end after you eat too many?

Almond Joys

Okay, this packaging has it right.  I’m pretty sure this is what joy actually tastes like.

Suddenly, I have an overwhelming urge to eat chocolate. But anyway, this is just one more example of how writers are clearly needed in the world.

Write on, folks.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So you've written your book--now what?

One of my most common emails (that I get, not that I send--just clarifying) is from people who have completed their novel and they want to know what to do next.

My first response is: rewrite it.

I don't tell people that because I don't want to discourage them. They'll get plenty of discouragement from agents/editors/publishers. Besides, for all I know said optimistic writer has already rewritten the thing 17 times.

I usually tell people about agentquery.com It's a great resource for authors. You can search agents by genre and the site gives you all sorts of useful information like the agent's submission guidelines and what sort of chocolate to send in order to bribe them. Okay, the website doesn't really tell you about agents' favorite chocolate, but it should. If I was an agent, that's the first thing I'd have listed there.

Anyway, here is the checklist I should give people before they submit anything.

1) Have you read any books on writing? If the answer is no, you're not ready to submit. If the answer is yes, but you've only read one or two, you're also probably not ready to submit. Writing is like playing the piano. Most people who are self-taught are not going to be all that good at it.

Here are some great writing books for novelists:

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain
Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham (Actually anything by Jack Bickham)
GMC Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Deborah Dixon (You need to go to the publisher's website for this one.)
Anything by Gary Provost
Character and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

If you write non-fiction or picture books, get and read the books that pertain to those genres. Ditto for romance books, westerns, whatever. Blogs on writing are also very helpful. For example, if you need to write an action scene involving angry grapefruit, you'll want to read my last blog.

2) How many times have you gone over the manuscript yourself?

If the answer is twice, you're not ready to submit. For first time novels, you need to send that baby out to lots of readers for critiques. Don't just send it to your mom or friends. They'll tell you that it's great--and they might even believe it. After all, they love you. You need to have a network of fellow writers or well-read friends that can give you tough love. If you don't have that, pay for it. Revising is the difference between selling and not selling.

3) How long have you let the manuscript sit, unread?

If it's only a few days or a couple of weeks, you're not ready to submit. One of the truly weird things about writing is that you can't see your own mistakes when you write them. This goes for missing words but it also applies to unclear dialogue, bad description, etc. The story works beautifully in our minds, and so that's what we see on the paper. Let your manuscript sit for a month. Two or three months is better. (Which is why it's great to send a manuscript to an editor and then not get the revision letter for a couple of months. By that time you can look at it with fresh eyes.)


4) Have you ever gone to a writers' workshop or conference?

If not, why not? If you want to publish you probably should go to a conference that addresses your genre. You'll meet people who know about the industry. You'll get advice from pros, and you'll get tips about what's selling and what's not. If paranormal is a hard sell (which it is right now, by the way) and you're pitching your paranormal romance, you may run into problems. Not knowing why something is rejected is one of the most frustrating things about this business. Stay up to date about what's going on.

Besides, a good writers' conference will energize you. That's why people go back year after year.

5) Have you bought all my books?

Actually, this step might not really help you, but it would help me so I'm including it.

Happy submitting!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What I'm doing now

You'd think that after writing twenty plus novels it wouldn't be hard anymore. Maybe it wouldn't be if I kept writing the same novel over and over again. (Hey it worked for Barbara Cartland . . .) But unfortunately I keep writing different novels and the one I'm working on right now is an action novel. Yep, action.

Action, I've decided, is hard for me to write. I mean it's such a visual thing in a non visual medium. Plus, I've never really cared about fight scenes or car chases. Give me witty banter or romantic smoldering looks any day.

I was trying to make my daughter help me with a good guy-bad guy fight scene for the Erasing Time sequel and needed something to stand in for my people, so I grabbed a marker and some grapefruit that were on the counter.

Yes, This is what I've resorted to:


I'm pretty sure Ian Fleming didn't use this method. Sigh. And in case you're wondering, the pineapple is just an innocent bystander.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The bribery continues


First off, let me say that I really thought I was through bribing blog readers to do random things. I mean, I never intended this blog to be like those What-would-you-do-for-a-Klondike-bar commercials. Although it isn't readily apparent, I have more class than that . . . at least some of the time.

But this time what I'm asking you to do will be really easy. Two seconds of your time.

My engaged daughter called me yesterday to tell me she was chosen as one of the five finalists for a wedding give-away and asked me to ask my friends to vote for her and the son-in-law-apparent. (You know you want to see his picture anyway)

Sooo in a shameless attempt to buy votes I'll be giving away paperbacks of My Fair Godmother (because I have a ton of them) Vote. Leave a comment telling me you did. And I'll give-away a copy of MFG for every four comments I get. In other words, if I have 20 commenters, I'll give away 5 copies of the book. Your chances are good--so take 2 seconds and vote for Asenath and Alex--number 4 at this link:

https://inspiredgiveaway.wufoo.com/forms/q7x3a1/
ops--the voting doesn't actually have their picture. To see that go to: http://inspiredweddinggiveaway.blogspot.com/
and scroll down to number four. Why does my daughter appear to be checking to see if her fiance has a heartbeat? I have no idea, but there are rumors of vampirism . . .